December 18th, 2009
04:33 PM ET
6 months ago

Franken takes on Lieberman as tensions builds in Senate

Washington (CNN) - Tensions stemming from the prolonged debate on health care flared Thursday afternoon when Democratic Sen. Al Franken, who was the presiding officer, refused to let Sen. Joe Lieberman finish his speech on the senate floor.

Lieberman, the bane of the Democratic Party's liberal base because of his opposition to creating a public option and expanding Medicare, was speaking about preserving the Medicare trust fund.

After his allotted ten minutes, Lieberman - an independent from Connecticut who sits with the Democratic caucus - asked for more time to finish his speech, a request customarily granted in the venerable chamber.

"In my capacity as the senator from Minnesota, I object," replied
Franken.

"Really?" Lieberman asked, seeming surprised by the rejection. "Okay," he continued with a chuckle, "I don't take it personally."

Immediately following the exchange, Lieberman's closest Republican ally, Sen. John McCain of Arizona, came to his defense.

"I must say that I don't know what's happening here in this body, but I think its wrong," said McCain. "I have been around here for 20-some years. [This is] the first time I have ever seen a member denied an extra minute or
two to finish his remarks."

A spokesperson for Franken explained that Lieberman was told to stop peaking because Senate leaders were enforcing the strict time limits so they could finish a defense spending bill and get to the health bill.

Majority Leader Harry Reid's spokesman, Jim Manley, said, "We did that to maintain order and [so] that no senator had an unfair advantage over another in terms of speaking. It was a simple request of the leader and Sen. Franken was adhering to the request of his leadership."

Later in the evening it appeared that Lieberman and Franken had made amends, as they could be seen talking, laughing and even hugging on the Senate floor.


Filed under: Al Franken • Joe Lieberman • Popular Posts
soundoff (300 Responses)
  1. Richard

    It is time to pull in the horns of Joe the turncoat Lieberman. He doesn't have the decency to respect the Democrat Party that let him run for Vice President, if that doesn't show character I don't know what does. Specter is another one that hasn't any character.or respect.

    December 18, 2009 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  2. Norma

    They should duck tape his mouth shut. He's a big bag of wind. Have you ever listened to him speak? It's like watching paint dry.

    December 18, 2009 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  3. Oldtimer

    Another example of why Franken was a joke when elected to the Senate. Pettiness does not belong on the Senate floor. He did nothing to build is own image by such disrespectful behavior. Does he have a clue to Senate etiquette and tradition? Joe just gained 10 points in the public opinion polls.

    December 18, 2009 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  4. Guido

    Lieberman and McCain can take their precious healthcare speeches to the private insurance companies, who – after all – are their real constituents in this debate.

    December 18, 2009 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  5. John Buro

    Another example uf the Democrats trying to supress freedom of speech.

    December 18, 2009 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  6. Frank Pitz

    Lieberman needs to have a muzzle on him at all times.

    December 18, 2009 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  7. sonny chapman

    It's about time Joe Lieberman realizes that the world is round & doesn't revolve around him. Treat others shabbily & you can expect the same kind of treatment in return. P.S.–where was John McCain when Rep. Joe Wilson yelled "liar" at Pres. Obama on the floor of the House.

    December 18, 2009 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  8. John Buro

    Another example of the Democrats trying to supress freedom of speech.

    December 18, 2009 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  9. blf

    At this point ol' Joe has no more to say (at least anything of import) than aPALLING Sarah.

    As for Sen. Franken, "I'm Good Enough, I'm Smart Enough, and Doggone It, People Like Me!" Go for it, Al!

    December 18, 2009 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  10. H

    You got what you voted for.

    December 18, 2009 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  11. Kathy

    Thanks Al. I wish I could stop that guy from speaking as well. I live in CT, but certainly did not vote for him and wish, for Christmas, that he would retire and let someone else be the senator from CT. Please Joe, go away.

    December 18, 2009 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  12. t22

    This is why bad comedians shouldn't be elected to the Senate. What a shame that Franken and the Democrats are so threatened by a differing point of view.

    December 18, 2009 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  13. Travis in Colorado

    That's they Democrats are. They act like little babies when one of their own doesn't support them all the time. I knew it was a mistake to get someone like Al Franken in there. You won't see a Republican acting like this.

    December 18, 2009 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  14. Walker

    Al Franken is such a joke.

    December 18, 2009 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  15. John in AZ

    Considering that Lieberman is currently opposing plans he championed for over a DECADE (up until recently even), one can only assume that his speeches are an attempt to grandstand. In this respect I am glad that Franken cut him off. Additionally, it is true that the Senate is running out of time and curtailing the time each member is allowed on the floor seems like a reasonable imposition...it works in the House, so why not?

    December 18, 2009 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  16. Joe

    You got a "gansta" in da whitehouse, you gonna get "gangsta" politics, can't behave even when day be prezident

    December 18, 2009 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  17. Pam

    LIEberman is just playing games and giving speechs to hear his own voice. Who is LIEberman these days. He sure isn't an Independent or a Democrat. He humg around with MsCain and Palin way too long.

    December 18, 2009 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  18. Yawn

    Lieberman probably would have gone on for four or five days in an attempt to stall needed legislation like his GOP friends did with the 700+ pg. amendment.

    December 18, 2009 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  19. tess

    when franken was "placed" in the senate the quality quotient went down by about 99%. what a low-rent piece of trash. the dems are getting worse by the day and it appears there is no one to call them on their trashiness. but, that just makes it easier for the republicans and the independents to replace the whole lot of them in 2010 – bring it on!!!!!

    December 18, 2009 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  20. bill

    well done mr. franken. lieberman needs to be put in his place and as for mccain, that old man should retire. Ofcourse he will back his buddy (who supported his failed presidential campaign) .. both of em need to retire asap and maybe then we can something done with health care reform. especially that cronie lieberman, what a bag of nails he is.

    December 18, 2009 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  21. coldrock

    ...shouldn't it read "because of his opposition to creating a public option OR expanding Medicare" ? isn't that the fact of the matter? Semantically, isn't that more the circumstance? Just askin'...

    December 18, 2009 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  22. Baby Boomer

    Something tells me that Al Franken is as sick of Joe Lieberman as the majority of the country is. What a shame that a Senator who's really a closet (and I use the term very loosely) Republican may be able to ruin Health Care Reform for the entire United States. This should not be happening... Please do something with Joe...

    December 18, 2009 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  23. Truth

    Brilliant Al Franken...!
    This's exactly how this man should be treated.

    December 18, 2009 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  24. Sharon

    Al Frenken, a comedian who got in office under the most suspicious of circumstances, objects to anything and they take him seriously? PULEEZEEEEEE!

    December 18, 2009 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  25. sean

    ha ha ha ha ha ha! LieBerman shouldn't be allowed to caucus with the democrats anymore, that is just his ploy to get people in Connecticut to think of him as pretty much a democrat. All he does is screw the democrats. Let him caucus with the republicans, what would be the difference?

    December 18, 2009 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
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